A new study, reported in Redox Biology, discovered that a compound found in a Californian shrub can be used to tackle brain aging and maybe even Alzheimer’s disease.
It is still very early but until now, the compound has been shown to possess many interesting neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects when tested on mouse cells.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia which causes memory, thinking, and behavioral problems. Its symptoms develop slowly and get worse with time, becoming severe enough to affect daily tasks. Therefore, researchers found a Californian shrub which could help to treat this serious disorder.
The therapeutic plant is called yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum), a Spanish word for “sacred herb”. It has been used by Native Californian tribes for the treatment of several ailments. So, the research team considered it, together with many other plants, when searching for promising medicinal compounds.
Yerba santa contains sterubin, which is a flavonoid compound. Various flavonoids have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties so the team was concerned to see the effects of sterubin and other flavonoids on nerve cells of the mouse. They discovered that sterubin was active against multiple cell death inducers.
According to the researchers, this compound was known but actually ignored. Not only did sterubin turn out to be more active than the other flavonoids in yerba santa in analyses, but it also seems as good as, if not better than, other studied flavonoids.
The compound has a great influence on energy reduction and inflammation of nerve cells, chiefly microglial cells. It is an iron remover, which is basically a good response as iron can cause nerve cell damage. It also decreases the buildup of misfolded proteins and reduces the inflammation in aging nerve cells.
Researchers reported that Alzheimer’s disease is a leading cause of death in the U.S. In addition, as age is a chief risk factor, investigators are looking at ways to counter effects of aging on the brain. Hence, this identification of sterubin as an effective neuroprotective component is a promising step in that track.
The researchers now design a plan for the investigation of this compound’s effects on living animal models of Alzheimer’s like mice. They are concerned in the determination of the effects of sterubin and its toxicity.
The research team also proposes that it could be probable to test these therapeutic compounds in humans. Though the plants would have to be grown under identical conditions. According to them, they see no major complications when it comes to producing an artificial form of sterubin.